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10 PA specialties that earn the most

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Cardiovascular/cardiothoracic surgery topped the list as the highest-paid physician assistant specialty in 2020, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants Salary Report published June 16. 

To conduct the report, the AAPA breaks down salaries for more than 54 PA specialties into seven categories titled "major specialty areas." Compensation is then further broken down by "individual specialty area." 

All specialties in the top 10 list are paid more than the $111,000 national average, the AAPA said. The data includes PAs who worked at least 32 hours per week in 2020, with base salary, annualized hourly wage and productivity pay all factored into compensation. 

Here are the top 10 paid PA specialties in 2020, based on individual specialty area: 

Note: Major specialty areas are in parentheses. 

  1. Cardiovascular/cardiothoracic surgery (surgical subspecialties)  — $130,000
  2. Addiction medicine (other specialties)  — $120,000
  3. Radiation oncology (other specialties) — $119,500
  4. Radiology (other specialties) — $119,000
  5. Geriatrics (other specialties) — $118,677
  6. Trauma surgery (surgical subspecialties) — $117,968
  7. Critical care (internal medicine subspecialties)  — $117,000
  8. Emergency medicine  — $117,000
  9. Anesthesiology (other specialties)  — $117,000
  10. Thoracic surgery (surgical subspecialties) — $116,000

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